Architecture of Mahabaleshwar Temple
Made by the Vijayanagara emperors with granite stones, this temple stands exemplarily for its architecture. The temple of Mahabaleshwar exhibits the typical Dravidian style. This temple enshrines the Aatma Lingam of Lord Shiva. The Shiva Lingam is six foot tall and is enclosed in a square Saligrama Peetham. It has a small hole at its centre from where pilgrims can view the top of the Atmalinga. The deity which is a carved stone image of Lord Shiva is believed to be 1500 years old.
Religious Practice at Mahabaleshwar Temple
A large number of devotees from various corners of the country visit this temple as they believe that viewing of god would wash all their sins and usher prosperity in their lives. However before a darshan, devotees practice some religious practices. First, they shave their head and then take a bath in the Arabian Sea, opposite to the temple. Next, they pay obeisance to lord Ganesha defied in the Shri Maha Ganapathi Temple located a few yards away from the Mahabaleshwar Temple. After observing all these religious procedures, devotees visit the main shrine of Mahabaleshwar for a darshan.
Festival of Mahabaleshwar Temple
Another attraction of the temple is the festival of Shivaratri. During this festival, the rathyatra is celebrated in which the idol of Shiva and other deities is placed and pulled through the town by the devotees, accompanied by the drum bands. The Rathayatra begins from the Shri Maha Ganapati Temple at the terminus of the main market street.
Legends of Mahabaleshwar Temple
The temple is also known for its legend which defines the name of the town Gokarna. This temple played a very significant role in the epic period of Ramayana. According to the legends, Lord Shiva was worshiped by Ravana and his mother. Jealous of their prayers, Indra stole the Shivlinga and the wit in the sea. On this, Ravana's mother decided to go without food till she established the deity and begin her worship. On this, Ravana promised his mother to travel up to Mount Kailash and offer sacrifices and prayers to Shiva till he is satisfied. In the process, he even chopped off his head and was successful in pleasing Lord Shiva. On his return, he promised Ravana to appear on the land in the form of atma linga which was carried by Ravana along with Uma. This was established in the form of Mahabaleshwar temple which is known for the temple of atmalingam. This temple is surrounded with some more sites like Shri Maha Ganapathi temple, Gogarbha and many more.
Thus, Mahabaleshwar temple is one of the most popular sites of Karnataka situated at the shores of Arabian Sea.